But for the amazing generosity of strangers, who have become family thanks to Global Giving, we would not be here; poised for 2016 with funds to continue our mission of providing therapeutic riding and equine assisted activities to people living with disabilities.
Our Veterans program met the goal of $10,000.00 last night, to end the year on an exceptionally high note. Although I am 'retiring' this program, I remain committed to continuing our policy of providing all programming free of charge to our Veterans and First Responders.
Thanks to You All!
Your support made it happen. At BITS ETC, it is Volunteers who make it all happen. Over seventy volunteers with 'boots on the ground" make it happen each day by caring for horses, supporting unbalanced or fearful riders, and generously giving of time, and money, An additional 80 plus 'volunteers' from our "global community' fullfilled our mission of bringing quality horse time to Veterans with their generous donations of funding.
In early spring last year, it was a volunteer who suggested I pursue Global Giving as an avenue for raising funds to support our cause. Georg explained that his work gave him a voucher to donate to the charity of his choice, but we were not represented. That was the beginning of this program to raise funds for our Ride UP program for Veterans and First Responders, and has culminated in over 80 service men and women being served this past year alone.
You made it happen for Veterans, and with this outstanding show of support for our mission, I am now committed to raising funds for another segment of our riding population: those who live on the Autism Spectrum. Our newest goal is to offer free sessions to people with autism in 2016. Won't you join me in connecting people with horses in healing ways? You can help us get them all 'back in the saddle," and onto Life's Happy Trails!
Our original goal of raising $5,000.00 was achieved within only three days of the Global Giving challenge begun this spring. The success of this project is reflected in the fact that we served 23 Veterans in the program by August 30th. Your generous outpouring of support allowed us to expand our original goal to $10,00.00 and now that this is nearly reached, expand our services to Uniformed Professionals in our community. Ride UP for Uniformed Professionals (Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, and First Responders---Fire, Police, EMT's) is letting us give back to those who give so much of themselves every working day.
To date, we have served 66 Veterans and First Responders with equine interventions geared to individual interests. English riding, Western riding, ground work, and horse training methods have all been offered to both Veterans and their family members.
We pledge to continue to offer all our Ride UP participants quality horse interactions free of charge. You have made this possible. I cannot thank you, and Global Giving enough for the opportunity to expand our program offerings this year!
Family members have included wives and children as we find ways for horses to foster closer connections between family members. You made it happen!
The Veterans came in August, by the busload to visit BITS ETC. Tilton Veteran's Home residents, from Tilton NH enjoyed several days at BITS, with Veterans from WWII, Vietnam, and Korea represented. John's was one story that made me cry:
"I grew up on a farm in Maine. There were ten in my family, my eight brothers and sisters, and my mother and father. I am the last one left of my family. We worked 360 acres with a team of horses."
At this point he was hugging Cover Girl, a miniature horse, who stood next to his wheelchair a full ten minutes without moving, while he stroked her.
"It's good, at the home. They work hard to give us a good life. Getting out here is so great. Thank you for having us."
With your generous support we've provided equine interventions to two thirds of our targeted audience. Fall riding soon to peak with the wonderful colors of Autumn all around the farm, our next report will cover our Ride UP program for Veterans and Uniformed Professionals with a couple who have been coming to work with our horses on Saturdays. Stay tuned!
Lonnie opened this season's Ride UP program at BITS ETC. His military background showed in his determination to conquer the main obstacle, mounting his horse from a wheelchair; as well as in his proud carraige while riding, The following pictures show clearer than any words, the process many of our riders enjoy while spending quality time with our therapy horses.
Because of your great support, we have nearly doubled our original goal of $5,000.00 to put 20 service men and women on horses this summer. With these additional funds, we are able to offer services to more participants, or, as in Lonnie's case, extend the time they can ride to up to two months, instead of one. I called Lonnie the evening of his first ride at BITS ETC:
" I served on the USS Naval Aircraft Carrier, CVS39 from 1962 to '64. hose were tense times, what with the Cuban missile crises, and President Kennedy's assasination. We were placed on high alert, being at the height of the cold war."
Lonnie spoke of his background of service on the last wooden, "straight deck" aircraft carrier in the fleet. The interview questions I had prepared (with a scale of 1 to 10 for his reaction to his first day) had to be scrapped because all the questions were answered in the superlative.
"I'd have to say I feel fantastic. It was better than I had hoped it would be. The people were fantastic! I felt very safe while riding, and comfortable with the support I had."
The Veteran's Administration suggest that therapeutic riding and equine assisted activities may be helpful for physical, mental, and emotional issues which may result from service related trauma. Lonnie will continue at BITS for a total of eight weeks. Our flexible program can offer astride riding, carriage driving, and working with miniature horses from the ground. Lonnie will choose activities that meet his particular interests, after he completes "basic training' for riding and working safely around horses.
You make it happen! The additional funding means we have additional riding opportunities available this summer. Please help us spread the word of this free program for Uniformed Professionals (Veterans, and First Responders, and their families) Tell a vet that family members can be included in the program---all sessions individualized to meet the needs of participants.
Without your valued support, these progams could not happen. THANK YOU!
A big Thank You to all donors!
With your help we have met our initial goal of raising $5,000.00 in just the first three days of the challenge! The additional support we have received (nearly $7,000.00 to date) will provide an even better experience for our riders, as we can finally upgrade our saddles to treeless ones.
We are pursuing the best saddle for a reasonable price (about $500.00 each) to expand our supplies for the Ride Up program. Adult riders require a significantly larger saddle, and the treeless type is much more comfortable for our horses.
Happy horses, Happy riders!. all because of your support of this Global Giving Challenge
Reaching the new goal of $10,000.00, would allow us to expand services to 10 more veterans! Thirty served by this fundraiser alone.
I am busy sending more emails to my friends and neighbors explaining this great opportunity--which ends Friday.
A fully funded campaign might supply undreamed of improvements to the Ride UP Program such as:
With only a week left, please make every day count....share our website with your friends
Like us on Facebook, and share our appeal.
Thank you again for helping me bring the best to the best!
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